Planning Your Sponsored Ride
Here at Urban Cycles we’ve all participated in more than our share of sponsored rides, some of which have been much more successful than others. As a company we now support a wide range of charities to deliver the highest quality of experience for those participating in large organised charity rides. There are however many of us for whom participation in such opportunities feels to be near impossible. So here’s our list of top tips for planing your own sponsored ride. Remember that we’re always here to help so if there’s any particular problem or challenge you face please just ask.
Success Begins In The Planning
As my old man used to say,
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”
Be Smart, Be Creative, Be original
A two mile ride down the promenade on a warm Sunday afternoon is frankly very, very dull and is as likely to gain significant support as is the infestation of rats at your local take away. Sit two or three friends down for a coffee and convo, pull out your note pad and sharpie and scribble down their ideas until one of you strikes genius. Seek originality and endurance.
Key Q: Will my wider circle of friends be amazed when they hear what we’ve got planned?
If there’s one sure fire way not to raise money or gain media interest it is to do something that you and several million other people would actually quite like to do anyway.
I was recently approached by a couple asking me to sponsor their John O’Groats to Lands End ride. ‘That’s an impressive distance’ I thought and promptly enquired “How long do you intend to take”, “SIx weeks, we're going to stop off with friends and visit lots of nice hotels on route" came the reply. My support was lost in a nano second. While your supporters pull themselves to the grind of work each day don’t expect them to pay for you to have a six week vacation. Your challenge must be percieved as a a challenge of distance, altitude, length, terrain or a clever combination of all/any. Most simply it must require something from you which is more than the ordinary.
If You're Socialable Be Socialable
Not only is enforced isolation never a good thing but when it comes to sponsorship there is always power in numbers. Encouraging just two or three friends to join in on your venture could have a huge net impact on the amount of money raised for your good cause.
Maximise Your Collateral
While you might be convicted of your cause your supporters are more likely to be convicted by their desire to support you and your efforts. Shying away from this truth is pointless, exploit it to the enth degree. When you post blog or facebook updates make them personnel. Tell your story.
No One Likes A Martyr
What you're planning may be a real challenge but the odds are you will finish and return to a warm bath, a comfortable bed and a substantial meal. Nothing turns people off like false and ridiculous claims of martyrdom. It's a fine line between outlining your story of commitment and struggle and positioning yourself as a martyr, stay the right side of that line at all costs. Action your closest friend to tell you if/when ever you cross it.
Talk about it.
You'll need a training stratergy but of equal importance will be your communication stratergy. Open an excel spreadsheet with regular dates between now and your ride date written down the left hand column, fill in column 2 with subjects you might post on those dates. Suchposts might include updates on your training, more detailed news on your cause, updates on your total amount raised etc. Leave this to undisciplined spontinaety and your communications will be an incosistent mess.
If you don't already use Facebook or Twitter now would be a good time to swallow your pride and see it as a necassery evil, or more simply a damn good tool to do the job in hand. Check out some useful guides on how to do this well. For Facebook we'd definately recommend opening your own account and then adding a page. People can 'like' and 'share' your page updates building you real momentum.
Make Giving Easy
If you want people to give their hard earned money make your process of giving as easy and transparent as possible. The days of a form on the back of your sons text book are long gone (thank God)!
Justgiving is the most well known giving site and a good all rounder with ighly customisable templates easily linked to your social media. Be cautious of the £15 monthly charge incurred by your charity of choice.
Virgin Money Giving is a great tool if your happy promoting the Virgin brand and gives 100% to your chosen charity.
Just Text Giving is simple a good choice if your network is filled with cell phone addicts.
Givey gets my big thumbs up as the best giving site. Givey gets 100% of your supporters donation straight to your charity and doesn't charge them for the pleasure!!
Whatever facility you use please, please, please make sure it has a Gift Aid option. This will enable your chosen charity to receive an extra 25p for every £1 of support given by any British tax payer.
Always make your giving transparent, open, honest and clear. NEVER ask people to pay your living expenses or the administrative cost of your challenge. Those costs should be covered entirely by you, if you can’t meet that demand then find another challenge.
Plan a Generous Lead In Time
Make sure there is a significant ‘lead in’ time between the conception of your idea, the pursuit of your training, the announcing of such activity to your friends and family and your participation in the actual event. Note that in my description I do not envisage any of these happening at the same time. This methodology might mean postponing your ride for up to a year but will in the long run gain you considerably more financial support. Take the long walk to a £1000 not the quick dash to £10.
Plan, plan, plan and plan a little bit more.
- Know your route and know it well
- Get your bike well serviced prior to your ride
- Learn how to carry out emergency repairs
- Plan several alternative routes in case of unforeseen circumstances
- Think about what to wear and what not to wear
- Plan plenty of food and refreshment breaks
- Learn some basic first aid
- Learn how to replace an inner tube (in under 3 minutes)
Never fix a puncture at the side of the road. Simply swap your tubes over, remove the cause and do the repair at a more convenient time.
How much, how often and how far depends entirely on the nature of your proposed ride. The important thing is to make sure you train and with some frequency (once a week does not count!)
Some of the big charities such as British Heart Foundation have really useful training guides for participants on their organised rides. Do it For Charity also have a great guide which helps you to match your challenge against your percieved level of fitness. I'd be tempted to read this guide and then up it a level to insure you get the challenge factor.
If you’ve identified a long ride as your best fundraising option the odds are you will struggle to find the training time to spend entire days in the saddle, in which case we'd encourage you to get used to spending 3 - 4 hours cycling at a high intensity, this will build your hearts strength giving you a much greater level of comfort as your work a long ride at a lesser pace.
Be Bike Ready
- Fit at least one water bottle cage preferably two
- Keep your tyres running at a high pressure (more puncture resistant)
- Be confident in changing your inner tubes at speed (practice in the warm dry of your home/pub)
- Keep all bicycle components well lubricated (Dry lube if its summer and on road Wet lube if you're planning anything off road in the wet).
Be Weather Ready
I'm a weather nerd but that's because as a child I learnt the importnace of understanding the weather the hard way. Do not be caught out by changing conditions but at the same time don't be a fool. There's no need for your winter therrmals if the skies are clear blue and it's the middle of August. Loads of great and very acurate weather apps can help but only if you use them properly. Be sure to get an accurate weather check on your destination as well as your departure.
The Night Before
This is the one night not to join the Atkins diet, in fact the night before a long ride is time to carb up! Get yourself a big plate of Pasta and be sure to have Poridge for breakfast.
Plan To Communicate and Then Communicate
Let other people know your plan and your e.t.a. Make sure they have all of your details in case of emergency. Agree when you'll communicate and stick to that plan.
On the Day/Week/Month
Pack with intelligence
Unless previously stated you are neither moving house nor going around the world (although the first may well be a genius method of raising money "Dave moves house using his bike!!") so don’t pack as if you are. Travel as light as is possible without taking undue risks. The following are essential:
- Fully Charged Phone
- A small amount of cash (£10)
- A replacement inner tube
- Hand Pump or Compressed Gas
- Puncture Repair Kit
- Micro First Aid Kit
- Map (in addition to any software you may have on your phone)
- Multi tool
- Lightweight Waterproof
- Common sense (actualy you might be best not to put that in the bottom of your bag!)
Dress; But Not to Kill (Yourself)
Whatever time of year you plan to ride you'll need to be wearing a wick away breathable base layer on your top half and preferably your bottom half. The season will dictate precisely what you wear in addition to this but wearing wickable base laers is a non negotiable must. Moisture (sweat) trapped next to your skin is not only grossly uncomfortable and disgustingly odorous (once you stop), but will leave you nursing a chest cold for weeks to come.
Wicking is the ability of a fiber to transfer moisture from one section to another. Usually the moisture is moved along the fiber surface but it may also pass through the fiber when a liquid is absorbed by the fiber.
- J. J. Pizzuto's Fabric Science
Let Your Bike Carry Your Burdens
Your next sponsored ride is no time for the straps of a ruck sack to be digging into your shoulders. You bike is a far more appropriate place to be carrying any load you may need to carry. If you're on a one day sprint then that might be as little as a saddle or handlebar bag. If you're on a long jaunt then you'll need to think about panniers of a trailer. The important factor is to make sure you distribute the load across and between bikes.
Keep using your social media networks. Remember that pictures speak a thousand words.
- Try pulling over alongside place names, take a selfie, share the pic as means of letting your friends and followers know where you are up to and the effort you are making.
- Remind friends and followers why you are doing the ride.
- Ask them to share or RT this information amongst their own circles.
Always include a link to your direct means of giving. People will give as you ride.
Talk Some More
If you're riding as part of a group keep communicating with each other, encourage each other, look out for each other, keep your spirits high and your ride will pass much faster.
No matter what time of year it is your body will be loosing fluids as soon as you start riding, it's called perspiration. If your ride takes place on a warm summers day this can be very deceptive, your sweat will evaporate almost as quickly as you create it. DO NOT BE DECIEVED you are loosing fluids at a rapid rate. The key is to take fluids in before you need to. The pang of thirst in your mouth is a sign that dehydration has already set in. Take lots of small swigs (a mouthful) rather than stopping after an hour and downing a whole bottle.
"Two to three gulps every 15 - 20 minutes"
For more on Hydration click here
On Summer Days
Apply plenty of total block suncream regardless of whether or not the sun is out.
This One Thing I Ask
Cycling is a very, very safe mode of transport and so I include my final rule only in the hope that if you do it for your sponsored ride you’ll include this practice in the rest of your life. CARRY A SIGNED DONOR CARD
Just because it's a challenge doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed, sometimes a challenge can be amongst the most exhilerating of experiences.
“Happiness is not the absence of problems; it's the ability to deal with them.”